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Blockchain meets No-code/Low-code

by jcp

While NFTs and cryptos are in the spotlight, the biggest innovations in the blockchain landscape are hidden backstage. Some of the world’s largest companies have already moved on from initial pilots and now rely on blockchain for core operational and strategic transformations. Most of the action is happening in the back-office, which perhaps contributes to why some of these innovations are going unnoticed. In financial services we are seeing anything from cross-border payments to trade financing. In more industrial sectors like chemicals or oil and energy, blockchain is becoming critical to secure supply chains, validate provenance of materials and substantiate sustainability credentials.

In those enterprise ecosystems there’s another software innovation that has been gaining traction over the past few years, No-code and Low-code platforms. These are software platforms that simplify digital transformation by enabling the development and deployment of digital products with minimum efforts and resources. More specifically, low-code reduces programming efforts to a minimum, while no-code empowers anyone to create apps without any programming knowledge. The key driver for their growth is the ever-growing demand for digital solutions and the shortage of skilled developers to produce them.

Skill shortages are even more dire when it comes to blockchain. From startups to medium and large enterprises, many of the industry leaders are trying to figure out a blockchain strategy and how to implement it. Most are well aware of the areas of their business that will benefit from blockchain powered solutions but given the complexity of this emerging technology there’s a huge gap between business requirements and the technology. For blockchain powered solutions to succeed, there’s a need to hide the complexity of the technology and package it in plug-and-play enterprise software solutions.

This is where the concept of No-code and Low-code comes in. Let’s go for a practical example, take a retailer or a brand that wants to substantiate the sustainable nature of their product, let’s say a T-shirt. They’ll need to gather supply chain data across multiple tiers of their supply chain. They want to trace organic cotton or recycled polyester for the yarn, renewable feedstock used in the production chemicals like dyes or coatings used to treat the fabric, and they might even want to trace transport and logistics data to provide a complete picture. Blockchain is of great value for this, as you want to make sure data is captured in a secure, auditable, and immutable way. You want to have full visibility and accountability, while at the same time control access to critical data. So yes, the technological answer may very well be blockchain. But two main hurdles must be overcome: configuration and accessibility.

Configuring such a complex supply chain is no easy feat. There are many interactions at play, many players, and on top of everything these supply chains are almost living organisms, in that they tend to change and evolve with time. You almost need something in which you can drag and drop modules, add or remove steps in a process, and have all that replicated in your underlying blockchain ecosystem. Here things start to sound a bit like No-code.

Accessibility is the other challenge, with different players comes different levels of digitalisation and different systems. In industrial or remote setups, you need to remove barriers for access; a simple smartphone or laptop should suffice. In more digitised environments like distribution centers and warehouses you would ideally connect to ERPs or other legacy systems. In short, you need to quickly produce WebApps and integration modules and have those connect to your blockchain ecosystem. The best way to achieve that would be by inherent high-level abstraction to build these with minimum efforts; in other words, Low-code.

The same hurdles of configuration and accessibility are seen in many other examples of enterprise blockchain solutions. It gets even more complex, as we recognise blockchain as a horizontal technology that will play a key role in many areas of a business.

For blockchain to reach its full potential and deliver the most value, CIOs and industry leaders must embrace the No-code/Low-code approach as the optimum route to accelerate and facilitate the adoption of this emerging technology.

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